Thanks !

I have seen people in life, met people of all kinds, from different religions and different backgrounds, both black and whites, Indians and Asians, and I have come to realize one thing, that; there is only two kinds of people, good and bad people. My trip to Canada was an eye opener to me, the trip made me realize the true meaning of being humble, loving and respectful, and above all being honest with myself.

It made me realize how important it is to be open and share everything together without being ashamed where you come from, I remember at first I was not willing at all to mention about my family and the kind of seed I germinated from, I never wanted to talk about my mum who fetches water for other villagers in order to provide for my sisters, I never wanted to talk about my dad who was addicted to alcohol, I even never wanted to talk about my home which even we never had furniture.
It was until I met these two women, Silivia Knittel and Alison Stuart in Kenya, who from them I learnt the true meaning of being proud of where you come from and making a difference. It’s through them that I joined PA-MOJA and got a chance to fly to Canada, the trip of my life. Where I came to meet the world where being honest and truthful with yourself is part of their culture.
I will always thank the entire PA-MOJA fraternity for having given me that noble chance to meet people who thought me lots of things, and shade some light into my life.
I have been yearning to share out this story about my homestay family, but because of being in upcountry where accessing internet is very expensive I haven’t been able to.
Just in few words, I will say my homestay family was instrumental and role models to me, they are people who I will never erase in my life, people whom I learnt from them the importance of being honest and turning your sad story to a happy story, I shared with them lots of things about me and my family, they are people who learnt about my weakness of being so mindful about other people and sacrificing for them, and forgetting myself. I still remember these words from my homestay dad, “Victor, it’s high time you start thinking about yourself, go to school, work hard and when you will become successful then go for it, start thinking of people and help them”
These words touched me as that was actually what I was, since I was in high school, thinking of other people first before me. Thus I was in charge of students since I was in junior school all through to high because of my behavior of minding other people welfare more than mine which after all is not a bad thing.
I just can’t forget Kristen, she taught me lots of stuffs, she is the Person whom I first shared about my family, I don’t have enough words to express what kind of mum she was, she made me realize I had two brothers Oliver and Clarke, as they treated me as a family. Even as I am in Kenya, it still always rings in me that I have another family in Canada. The bond of love I have for them and PA-MOJA still remains to be strong and keeps on growing whenever I look at the pictures and the moments I shared with all people in Canada.
It’s from the bottom of my heart that I do say, thank you PA-MOJA and all people who made my stay in Canada wonderful and amazing! I can’t forget also to thank the Langley Fine Arts School, the stuffs, students and all individuals who sacrificed and showed love and care to me during my stay in Canada, I miss you all whom I get to know there during my stay. Thank you all!

My visit to Abbotsford School of Integrated Arts (ASIA)

Abbotsford School of Integrated Arts (ASIA) was such a wonderful and awesome school visit for me. It made me feel like I want to go back there again and spend another day with the amazing, super jovial and bright kids in that school. The bond that was created by the kids will forever remain inside my heart. It is really incredible how kids of eleven years and below can be such strong leaders and activists. I saw very strong characters in that school which I believe soon are going to be the future leaders. Can you imagine a kid of eleven years arranging for a fundraiser of her own and managing to raise $290 for kids in Kenya to get access to education?image

I learned several things while I was there for the day. Kids in ASIA are very passionate in whatever they do. From them, I learned that if you believe in something and believe what you’re doing is right and know why you’re doing it, you will do it to your best. As far as I know, ASIA has been one of the PA-MOJA schools which has had a sister school, Uaso-Nyiro Primary, for the past 10 years and that whole time they have been raising funds for the kids in Kenya to access quality education. The deep understanding and passion inspired by Ms. Dugdale, Ms. Tochkin, Ms. Cameron and other teachers at the school was magical and likely the reason why kids in ASIA are very dedicated to what they are doing to support kids to go to school.

James and George and I had a chance to visit different classes during the day where we talked to the kids about PA-MOJA and shared more about Kenya. The students had lots of questions about their sister school, Uaso-Nyiro Primary. We also had an assembly where all the kids came to the gym. I had a chance to sing the Swahili first and second stanza of Kenyan national anthem. We showed the kids the PA-MOJA 10th year video, which shows all that PA-MOJA has done over those years for the community and wildlife around the Ol Pejeta conservancy.

At lunch, while James and George were teaching students how to make soccer balls with plastic bags, I interviewed some students to find out more about ASIA so I could share information with the Uaso-Nyiro students when I return to Kenya.

imageAs I was doing these interviews, I happened to meet this wonderful girl from ASIA named Talvir. She is a grade 4 student and she shocked me when I interviewed her. She is the first girl I have ever heard of complaining of how Canadian kids cry for not being bought toys by their parents. For her, crying for a toy is something she would never dream of doing. She talked about how kids from Africa yearn for an education but are not able to access it because of a lack of school fees. Despite her being in grade 4 she made me realize that there are people who are thinking of the Kenyan poor kids who want access to education. Even from a young age, people like her are thinking about others and sacrificing to make sure other kids too enjoy school as they do in Canada. She made me have hope that one day the African dream of everybody being able to access education will come true. She concluded her statement by saying that she is very positive that soon all will be well for those kids. It is great to have her and all the other really kind kids at ASIA being part of PA-MOJA.

imageThanks to Ms. Dugdale and Ms. Cameron for hosting us for the day at ASIA North Poplar and for working so hard with PA-MOJA to inspire the youth to care about the world. I would also love to take this wonderful opportunity to thank Sheridan Tochkin for having hosted us over to her house for two days during our visit to ASIA. We really had fun staying with you. Thanks for supporting PA-MOJA too. We also would love to thank the administration of ASIA, Ms. Barbara Carter and Ms. Brittney Wallace, for having welcomed us warmly and having treated us wonderfully.

 

MY LAST CAMPING WITH MY HOMESTAY FAMILY ON CULTUS LAKE

One week before I left Canada to Kenya my home stay family parents Kristen Bailey and Christopher Bailey took me camping together with my two little home stay brothers Clarke Bailey and Oliver Bailey.

imageThis is my third time camping with my home stay family, and all the three camping experiences have been great, full of laughters, joy and time for me to reflect back my stay in Canada. The camping with my home stay family have also given me a chance to play with my young two little brothers different games, which I love most doing, they are so sweet and I will really miss them when I get back to Kenya. image.jpegI get to play with them checkers, soccer and life which is the game I just learnt, it such an interesting game for one to play with full of learning of what the real life can give someone.

Camping inside the truck has been a new experience to me, in Kenya people go camping, but we use tents instead, the idea of camping inside a truck which the inside looks like a house shocked me since in my country we don’t have the camping trucks. imageWhile in Cultus we my homestay family took us to the Adventure park, we did several amazing rides, like the round up 360 which was scarily but fun. We also played golfing. I loved it!image

The camp fire time is one of the best moments that we get talk, share some jokes and get to share stories. I love this particular time since I get to benefit a lot from my home stay parents who always get to advice me. I have learned so many things about real life from them. I also love the warmth from the fire.

I have had such marvelous time with my home stay family while in Canada. They have inspired me and always made sure my stay in Canada super awesome and made me feel home away from home. The memories I have made with them will stick within me forever. In my heart they hold a special place. Thank you my home stay! I heart you.

KILMER VISIT

imageWhat a wonderful day at Kilmer? I consider myself very lucky to have gone back . My first visit left me yearning to go back because of the amazing and awesome kids I met. They are such good soccer players. They kept on showing me how to dab (the famous dance style) whenever I scored. One thing  I discovered about Kilmer Elementary is the fact that, kids there are good in sports not only in soccer but also in other games like curling.

My day begun by going to a math class of Ryan MacGregor  where the teacher was using a document camera to teach maths. It is neat  since each kid could see the teacher’s hand writing on a piece of paper as she calculated. I found this interesting and wished that Kenyan kids could also have a chance to access such modern technologies. Am so hopeful that with PA-MOJA’S efforts in providing the Kenyan child with an opportunity to get education, it will also dawn on the Kenyan government to bring more technology to the Kenyan student. The government has already provided computers to some schools which makes me believe that with time all Kenyan schools will have access to internet and new technologies.

imageI also did some curling with the kids which I did like. It is a sport where players slide stones on a sheet towards a target area which is segmented into four concentric circles called rings. As opposed to the real game where players play on ice, for us to we played it in the gym where cloth rings were placed at each end of the gym and we then slid the stones to see who would get closest to the middle of the rings.

I also happened to play Speed (a card game) with the kids. This was awesome.  Mrs. Nina Togno introduced me to playin it.The kids there challenged me in it. They were really good at it. I was curious to know why they had cards in school and played them in class, in Kenya its illegal to have cards in school. Their reason was that the kids use the cards to play games which are productive and helpful in their academics, for instance a game like speed helps kids be good at math.

At the end of the school day I had a chance to play tag with the grade fours. We went outside where we ran all around the school. Trust me, some kids were realy fast.

I cant forget when I was about to leave, a bunch of kids came to me giving me some of the things they had made in class like small soccer balls made from Aluminium food foil paper. This to me was a really good gesture of friendship. I cant wait to get to their sister school, Chuma and share all these experiences with them.

imageAfter school, Andrew Corbould, the principal of Kilmer Elementary took me to his house where I met with my fellow Kenyan boys George and James. Andrew Corbould’s children, Lindsay and Heather and their friends were also there. We had dinner together, shared our experiences in Canada with each other after that had a fantastic time playing a card game called President. Throughout the game I managed to maintain the vice-president position which is a major achievement for me.

I take this noble chance to thank the Kilmer staff and the kids for having given me a warm welcome to their school. I also would love to thank Andrew Corbould the principal for having invited me over to his school. I had much fun with the kids.

 

SUNRISE MASS

imageWhile in Canada and as a student at Langley Fine Arts school, I have been taking music as my major and I have been a member  of senior school choir. Singing has been my favorite thing while at Langley Fine Arts. I am pretty sure that everybody has something that he or she loves doing, and in my case music is the one thing that makes my soul happy.

As a choir member, I have been able to improve my skills and at least learn how to read music, although not perfectly. I can’t forget to mention how at first it was hard for me to fit into the choir, bearing in mind that I did not know at all how to read music. It was such a big challenge to me that almost made me give up, but as time went by I learned some basic things,  thanks to the senior choir students who were more than willing to help me anytime.

All my music teachers, Mr. Mark Lainchbury, Mr.Jim Sparks, Mr. Rob Goddard and Mr. Jonny Michel have been amazing and kind to me.  I can’t forget their effort to make sure that I grasped everything during the choir practice. They made me realize and appreciate the fact that a voice is an instrument on its own in music besides playing piano, guitar and other instruments that people play.image

Mr.Martin and Mr. Sparks helped me realize that in singing, the facial expression is important in delivering the message.  For example, in one of the songs we did in the sunrise mass called “Kyrie”, the message in the song is asking for forgiveness. Mr. Martin kept on insisting that we try and make the face that one uses when one is asking for forgiveness. This to me, and to many worked out incredibly well during our 3 months of practice for sunrise mass because whenever I was singing the song, my voice could turn itself to fit the message the song was passing out. In my imagination, I thought of myself as a sinner pleading for forgiveness as I sung the song.

What has really inspired me, is the sunrise mass concert that we did in Christ Cathedral Church in Vancouver Downtown. This particular concert made me realize  how powerful music is.  We had more than 45o people in attendance and it was such an awesome night, with beautiful music filling out the whole of the church.  We did the sunrise mass and two other songs, “Somebody to Love” and “Lifting up our Voice”. It was such an incredible experience, especially since I was among the singers. I love the fact that the sunrise mass was recorded and the CDs will be out soon, and they will be ready for sale. Am so excited to get one to take home and be listening to it, to remind me of this very noble moment. My family and friends will also be excited to hear it.

Am sincerely grateful to my music teachers and students at my music class for having given me a chance to work with them. It has been such and wonderful opportunity. It has also made me know how to sing in Latin!

SECOND VISIT TO WINDERMERE SECONDARY SCHOOL

Last week, I had a chance to go back Windermere Secondary school. It was an awesome day and it was well spent. The students there were excited to have me back in their school. I began the day by acknowledging the endless efforts and sacrifices they made to ensure that the Kenyan kids get an opportunity to access quality education. I was dearly impressed and touched seeing the kind of effort put forth by both the teacher in charge of PA-MOJA club, Mrs. Lee, and the students.image.jpeg

I practiced a couple of songs with the choir during the day that they were to perform for their choir concert that night.  I then had the privilege to attend and sing some songs with them at the concert too.

Among the songs I practiced with them were two Swahili songs ‘Jambo Bwana’ and ‘Baba yetu’ where I taught the choir some movements.

I can’t fail to mention the  Canadian flag they gave to me, which was signed with names of PA-MOJA club members. They also gave me a Kenyan flag which I am taking back to Mwituria Secondary school to be signed by students in Muituria and then returned to Windermere. What a cool cultural exchange!

From my second visit to Windermere I learned many things, which I need to remember to share with Mwituria when I go back to Kenya. Like how students here work hard and sacrifice a lot to raise funds to make sure kids access education and get bursaries. This choir has done a lot of hard work to practice the songs and also to run auctions and other fundraisers.image.jpeg It’s really incredible how hard they work. I believe I will be able to break the stereotype that most people have in Kenya that people here in Canada are rich, I need to make them understand that people here are only generous and willing to help and not just giving out because they have much that they don’t need. One of the similarities that I found out between the Windermere students and the many other Kenyan students is how they also take their education seriously. I noticed this because of how the students take their music lessons seriously and doing it because they like it. I remember interviewing one three students in Windermere all they sent me to tell their sister school is work hard in their studies.

I take this golden opportunity to thank Mrs. Heather Hall for taking me to Windermere and letting me learn and share with the Windermere school about their sister school and about Kenya. I also would love to sincerely thank Mrs. Andrea Lee for having invited me back . I had such wonderful moment during the Choir Concert that night. I also thank PA-MOJA club students who freely shared with me a lot of things about their school, their kind of lifestyle and couple of messages to take to their sister school back in Kenya.

Once again thank you very  much!

CREATING IMPACT AND BREAKING STEREOTYPES ABOUT AFRICA AND SHARING OF CULTURE

Hannah Chard a student at LFAS had a chance to write how our coming to her school and Canada changed everything she thought about Africa and what she had learned from us. Here is what she wrote about me, James and George!

image“When I first heard that the Kenyan boys were coming to LFAS, I assumed that it would be the typical “poor Africa” talk that we often times here. But I was taken by surprise when I met them. They were so humble and positive about everything. They communicated well, and loved sharing stories about their life back home. I have grown very close to the boys in the months they have been in Canada.

They have taught me so much about their culture, and have made me appreciate my culture here. They have inspired me to value the people around me, and taught me just how universal love and happiness really is. I think having the boys here has had a huge impact on many people here, including myself. I have learned so much about life in Kenya and how there are many things that can be considered negative about the lifestyle, but there are many beautiful things about it as well. image.jpegThere is such a strong sense of community and tradition that is carried through. There is appreciation and love for all living things and the planet, and it has made me think about how much more I could be doing to help the people around me. The boys have become some of my closest friends. It really showed me that you can have some of the strongest connections with people that were strangers not too long ago.

The amount of positivity and love that flow off them is so inspiring. They have made so many people feel happy and brightened so many days. Having their personalities around have brought so much life into our school, that will truly be a loss when they go back. I hope more than anything to visit Kenya soon. image.jpegI want to experience the beauty they tell me about and see a culture so different than my own. Mageto, George and James, having you three here has been such a life-changing experience for me, and I will forever hold you all dear to my heart. Thank you for all the fun and memories, and reminding me that I have a forever friendship in each one of you.

It has been an amazing time getting to know you all and I truly hope we can all see each other again. The laughter and love I have been taught will stay with my entire life. Thank you so much boys for changing my life and perspectives. You are three incredible people”

R.E. MOUNTAIN SECONDARY SCHOOL VISIT

imageIt was a short visit but incredible and worth it. We got to spend the lunch hour with the PA-MOJA club at R.E. Mountain secondary school, which is a sister school to Tharua Secondary school back in Kenya. I was really impressed by how well organised the club is.

The students took us on a tour around the school before we sat down in a circle to have a talk with them. We were introduced by Heather Hall, one of the directors of PA-MOJA, and we got to know each other pretty well. We had a great time talking with them about PA-MOJA and Butterfly Effect. One of their students, Maya Nue-lee is a member of Butterfly Effect, who we had happened to meet during Butterfly Effect sessions in Langley Fine Arts School on Tuesdays at 7:30am.

James Muraguri talked about a certain video which  Tharua made for their sister school R.E. Mountain Secondary. The video is all about HIV/AIDS one of the greatest epidemics  facing Africa. The video is soon going to be shown to them and we encouraged them to make some videos for Tharua too. That way, they can strengthen their sister school relationship and help them learn more about each other, culturally, socially and economically.

George talked about our school program and this was my best part. One of the students was shocked by our  Kenyan school schedule which is very demanding compared to the Canadian one. We wake up at 4:30am and sleep at 9:30pm. Here, students come to school at 8am and go home at 3pm. We also do a total of 21 Exams each worth 100%. I can’t forget to mention a comment made by one of the students who said he will never again complain of an exam which he does worth 20%.

I ended up talking about how education is such valued in Kenya. Without education in Kenya you are simply nothing, you don’t have a voice, nor can you get a good job. Many of the illiterate people in Kenya end up leading very poor lives. Millions of the students in Kenya yearn for education to make their future bright but due to poverty and lack of money for school fees they end up not getting an opportunity to access education. imageI really wanted to show them the big role they were playing in fundraising money  through PA-MOJA to support the kids from  families that can’t  afford to pay for their kids to go to school.They brighten the future of these kids by giving them bursaries. We were very grateful for their being a sister school to Tharua.

imageWe met with Mountain principal, Mr Magdy Ghobrial and had a little chat with him. I was interested to hear that he was from Egypt. He is very humble and kind. We are looking forward to going back on June 12th for an event the school is hosting to raise funds for PA-MOJA to help kids get education opportunities.

Once again I thank the PA-MOJA Club at R.E.Mountain Secondary, led by Annie, for inviting us over to their school. We had fun and we shared much about Kenya and PA-MOJA. We also learned a lot from them. Thanks too to the administration and the teacher in charge, Mrs. Francis, of PA-MOJA. Looking forward to coming back on June 12th!

KENYA NIGHT IN HERITAGE WOODS SECONDARY SCHOOL

On Monday, James, George and I spent the day at Heritage Woods High School, a school in the Coquitlam School District. The day was a special one since we got to spend time in two schools. In the morning, before school started, we went to Eagle Mountain Middle School where we had a music session. It was so cool and such a great experience. I learnt how to read and play some notes on a guitar for the first time in my life. I also played other different instruments. It was really fun, the three of us had a chance to play several instruments including the guitar, drums, and trumpet.image

The first class in Heritage Woods was the Planning 10 class with Ms. Nunn. It was an interesting class filled with meaningful discussions about day-to-day life. This was a particularly special day because they had peer educators. Students from grade 12 had volunteered to come and conduct the class. It was incredible seeing the level of student collaboration in learning. The main topic of discussion was relationships and it had some very controversial issues like who in a relationship is usually responsible  for violence.

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Ms. Yuri who is in charge of PA-MOJA club in Heritage Woods, took us around to different classes where she introduced us and talked about PA-MOJA and we shared with students about Kenya. The students also shared a lot about Canada with me. I think the visit was mutually beneficial to both the students and us. One thing I learnt from them, and would love to share with my fellow students in Kenya  is their ability to ask questions without being shy, they are very open. This in Kenya rarely happens. Students don’t ask their teachers a lot of questions.

While there, we were invited to a fundraising event in their school scheduled for a few days later. The name of the event was, ” A night in Kenya” I was very excited after I learnt that I was going to go back to Heritage Woods  for that event. When we came back for the event, we prepared Chapati, the Kenyan pancakes. Ian was our facilitator whereas George was the head chef. It took us probably three hours to prepare them. I scalded myself a few times in the process, and Ian and George made fun of me saying that it was a sign of me still learning how to cook.

imageKelly Kup, a student in heritage woods was in charge of all the arrangement for thePA-MOJA fundraiser. From her,  I learnt many leadership and organisational skills. I was surprised by the efforts and commitments she and her team had put to make sure that everything was in place. image.jpeg

During the dinner, we did some presentations. We taught all the people who had attended the foot dance. We also sang and danced. Ian talked about PA-MOJA and thanked all the people who had attended the event.

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Our sincere gratitude goes to Ms. Ohori Yuri for planning all of this and inviting us over to Heritage Woods. My sister school back in Kenya is Tigithi Secondary School, so I was so happy to have met the students I had written letters to, and done a couple of videos for them. It was now a reality and I got to see them physically, and not on video. Once again thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

A week with Andrew Graham’s family

Last month, we visited several schools in the Coquitlam school district. We stayed there for over a week. Andrew Graham, the principal of Maple Creek Middle School and his wife Tara hosted us the whole time we were there. This was along with their two daughters, Kristin and Carlie. They are all such amazing people, very social and friendly.

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I can’t forget the many times we were all up late talking and sharing things about Kenya and Canada. Kristin, who had been in Kenya, shared her experiences about her stay in Nairobi. I was surprised that she knew a lot of Swahili and listened to Kenyan music. She was the first Canadian I have ever encountered who listened to Kenyan music and is able to name many local musicians in Kenya. We had a Kenyan music night where we danced to Kenyan music and even sang some of the songs.
On Sunday, Andrew took us to watch a game of soccer and we had a chance to cheer the White Caps as they won by thrashing Dallas FC three goals to one. It was such a spectacular experience watching the game live from the stadium. The next day, we got our hair cut for free because the White Caps won the game and anybody who went to watch the game could use their ticket to get a free haircut at Great Clips.
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I can’t forget those beautiful moments with the Grahams when we went out to buy ice cream. That was one my favourite parts. They made me fall in love with ice cream. We also went hiking with the entire family and had an excellent time running up trails and jumping over logs and other obstacles before going back home for a delicious dinner. Dinnertime was such a precious moment at Grahams’ house. It was the time we would share so much together, get to talk and crack jokes.image

Andrew and Tara also took us out to Vancouver for dinner at Dunn’s restaurant where we had smoked ribs, poutine and fries. I don’t think any of the four of us; Ian, James, George or I will forget such a wonderful experience anytime soon. It was super delicious.

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On our last day with his family, Andrew took us to Simon Fraser University to view the city. It was a very beautiful view of Vancouver from above. He also took us to several other spots where we had a very good view of the city and ocean. This made me admire how beautiful Vancouver is. I thank the Grahams for welcoming us to their home and often running us to different places we needed to be throughout our stay. We had a great deal of fun, especially during the weekends when they took us visit different and new places. They are wonderful people and I loved every moment I spent with them.